Project Fight Opens Additional Case Management Centers in North Carolina

By: Laura Poff

Project Fight, the North and South Carolina Division’s Raleigh-based anti-trafficking program, expanded to five cities across the state late last year. The expansion comes as demand for services continues to increase as more agencies and individuals become aware of the signs of sex and labor trafficking.

“It’s happening everywhere, it’s been happening for hundreds of years, it just looks different now,” said Elizabeth Adams, director of public relations and communications for The Salvation Army of Wake County.

Project Fight began in 2011 when Christine Shaw, Raleigh’s director of social ministries, seized an opportunity to partner with an outside organization for a grant that would fund an anti-trafficking program for two years with the intention of exploring the need for such services in the state.

The area command team decided to create a comprehensive case management service, hiring case managers and a project coordinator to get things started. The team set a goal of encountering 12 victims over the course of the two-year grant. They surpassed the goal within the first few months.

“They were receiving calls from all across the state,” Adams said. “The grant only provided services for foreign-born victims, but when we realized it was bigger than anticipated we received additional funding to service domestic victims as well. They just hit the ground running and had to set up protocols later because they were inundated.”

Project Fight now leads the rapid response team for the Raleigh-Durham area, which includes partner organizations that come together to address immediate needs when a victim is identified, including medical, housing and legal concerns. Project Fight focuses on long-term case management, helping victims rebuild their lives and move forward.

“Our case managers focus on providing trauma-informed care, looking at our clients with compassion, holding an awareness of what they’ve been through and how that informs their behavior,” Adams said. “They really try to meet people where they are at and ask what their goals are. We see a higher success rate with this type of treatment.”

With new offices opened in New Bern, Greenville, Asheville and Charlotte, Project Fight is able to serve more victims and provide training and education to churches, police departments and other groups across the state. These trainings are an important component of Project Fight’s services and they’ve already saved lives.

“We’ve had our staff give trainings and have people go up to them after and self-identify as a victim,” Adams said. “We’ve also had instances where in the next month or weeks after a training, they’ll call saying they’ve encountered someone.”

Most victims are targeted by their traffickers because of existing vulnerabilities. Adams says one way that corps and individuals can help is by being inclusive of everyone.

“Any of us have a vulnerability that can be exploited. Don’t ignore the issue because it’s difficult to talk about.

Project Fight has served more than 250 survivors since its inception.

“Right now there are 30 open cases,” Adams said. “We actually received 15 referrals just last week.”

For more information, visit projectfightnc.org